[Wine] Jing Daily Interview: Pearl Lam – “I Think What Art Brings Us Is A ...

lorelmfias wineforum-user at winehq.org
Tue Oct 18 10:18:47 CDT 2011

Window In The Wall Exhibition, Curated By Gayatri Sinha And Gao Minglu, Running At Pearl Lam Fine Art Through November 9 Earlier this month, Jing Daily caught up with the inimitable gallerist Pearl Lam in Shanghai for a chat on the sidelines of SH Contemporary, the Asia-Pacific Contemporary Art Fair. Covering everything from the Window in the Wall exhibition running at Pearl Lam Fine Art through November 9 to her role in changing international pre-conceptions of Chinese contemporary art, our talk shed light on many of the issues currently facing the Shanghai (and, more broadly, Chinese) art world: censorship, infrastructure, and competition from Hong Kong, to name a few. Jing Daily (JD): Could you tell us a little about Window in the Wall? Pearl Lam (PL): The newest news? 50% of the work is in customs, and they wont release it. This is the India-China relationship  not very smooth. Last year there was another exhibition about Indian and Chinese art, and the organizers actually had to delay the opening date 10 days, because the artwork was stuck in customs. So the curator and the artists are all here from India, but the works are stuck in customs. Thats the newest news. This exhibition is curated by Guyatri Sinha and Gao Minglu. The goal is to explore, China and India are among the worlds oldest civilizations. Both countries LV cheap (http://www.bag126.com/) have gone through huge changes and political upheaval, and even though China is labeled as Communist, actually China is as capitalistic as India, and there is a lot of urbanization. So what is the impact of that, relating urbanization with old cultures? Both curators have been addressing these issues within this exhibition. But unfortunately, you wont see most of that [when it opens] tomorrow. JD: It sounds like a metaphor for India-China relations. PL: Its absolutely a metaphor. Just now, I had lunch with an Indian artist and curator, and I asked them, why isnt there ever a really large Indian exhibition in China, or a large Chinese exhibition in India? And they said to me, that is the India-China relationship. They said Indians are very intimidated by China  its the only country theyre intimidated by  but when they actually come into China they feel that we are so much more similar, in terms of our traditions, culture, our Buddhist theory. Because Buddhisms actually from India, and Buddhism is one of the things that defined our Chinese culture. So its very interesting. JD: Can you give a quick run-down of some of the artists youve chosen to show at SH Contemporary? PL: We were supposed to have two works from the Indian show, so thats now changed. The general curatorial direction of the gallery has always been focusing on Chinese contemporary art that evolved from tradition, in contradiction to the Western conception that contemporary art here is cut off from tradition. Weve always said we cant cut Chinese contemporary art from tradition. We're a very old culture, were an old civilization that hasnt ended, we didnt have a dark age. Also, looking at Chinese history and the dynamics of the 20th century, Western contemporary art is all derived from the West and, more specifically, from art in the 20th century and the development of psychology and sociology theory. We didnt have that. So our evolution just started with Mao's death in 1976. Weve been looking at what we have and looking at our culture. As a gallery, were looking at [Chinese] artists who have all derived from tradition but have been impacted by Western influence and the Western approach to art. JD: You stopped showing at SH Contemporary for a couple of years, what can you say about how the event has changed over the years? PL: This year it got a new director and we were asked to Chanel cheap (http://www.bag126.com/) support it so we came back, but we were the last gallery to join. So well have to see. Because everyone knows now that Hong Kong is the leading art fair, and Hong Kong has an infrastructure where theres no censorship and no customs problems. Here there are obvious customs problems, so well have to see what Shanghai will turn out to be. Because if Shanghai will relax these problems, censorship and customs, it can compete with Hong Kong. JD: How do you feel about the role of domestic and local collectors in the Chinese art world? Are you seeing more sophistication among them when they come into your gallery? PL: Art collectors, definitely. There are some really coy collectors who are very interesting  they are curious, they actually care about the curatorial side and make friends with curators. They develop just like [they did] in the West. Then there are the speculators who follow the auction market. And of course they behave differently. Then there are the newcomers who like to buy labels. If you want to see why artists like Zeng Fanzhi and Zhang Xiaogang attract such high prices, you just have to look at Chinese consumer behavior: they love labels. It's sort of a lack of confidence. They love Louis Vuitton, they love Christian Dior, and for them to buy a label artist is also part of their fear of taking a risk. They dont want to make a mistake. Internationally its the same phenomenon  you dont want to make a mistake. JD: Do you feel that fairs like SH Contemporary play a role in educating collectors, or is it the job of the individual curators, gallerists and museums to educate? PL: These shows will not educate them, and even the museum shows wont be able to. Most of these really coy people actually go abroad to see shows. But whats important is the development of private museums and art advisory [services]. But art advisory is different here than it is in the West. Here its just like friends sitting together talking about art, its more like a salon. An art fair is an art fair. It's difficult for an art fair to offer a new experience. JD: So who is one Chinese artist you think the world really should know about? PL: Zhu Jinshi. The way he applies paint so thickly, and some of his large paintings take up to three years to make. He's an original member of the Stars group who moved to Germany in 1989 or 1990. He was a factory worker there and eventually got an art scholarship. He started off doing installation, and by 2000 he started looking at calligraphy. In China weve always considered Western abstract art to be kind of like Chinese calligraphy, so theres a lot that looks abstract in Western eyes but is derived from calligraphy. Zhu Jinshis work is all concerned with questioning emotions, life, and philosophy in a Chinese way. What I want to address in that when there are Chinese paintings like this, people in the lady bag (http://www.bag126.com/) West always say theyre derivative, but China had representational art in 700 AD. We were pouring ink on paper centuries before Jackson Pollock. So the West has to also realize that were not saying work by Jackson Pollock or anybody is derivative, because their approach and philosophy is so different. So the work is meant to challenge Western arrogance on what they think they know but dont know. JD: So trying in a way to show the universality of art around the world, or closing the circle? PL: Its closing the circle. So, opening the Western world up  there is another way of looking at art. There's another approach of looking at art. Its not about Western dominance, because thats just like colonialism. In the 1950s, plenty of Western artists were looking at Chinese philosophy. Why is it all of a sudden people suddenly act like its a new thing? I think what art brings us is a bigger world. And what I love about art is that I'm learning from people. So hopefully people wont come to us and say, Youre making derivative art! Window in the Wall: India and China  Imaginary Conversations September 9  November 9, 2011 Pearl Lam Galleries No. 181 Middle Jiangxi Road Shanghai, China Event Website Tweet Follow @JingDaily Tags: chinese contemporary art, christian dior, exclusive, gallery, interview, louis vuitton, new chinese collector, original, pearl lam, sh contemporary, shanghai, zeng fanzhi, zhang xiaogang This entry was posted on Thursday, September 29th, 2011 and is filed under Arts, Auction, Culture, Education, Interview. 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